A multi-center cross-sectional study of Chinese Herbal Medicine-Drug adverse reactions using active surveillance in Singapore's Traditional Chinese Medicine clinics

Chin Med. 2024 Mar 7;19(1):44. doi: 10.1186/s13020-024-00915-z.


Background: This study aimed to investigate the rates and causality of patient-reported adverse events (AEs) associated with concomitant Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) and Western Medicine prescription drug (WMPD) consumption through active surveillance in Singapore's Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinics.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at five TCM clinics across Singapore from 8th May till 8th July 2023. Patients were screened to determine rates of CHM and WMPD consumption, and then interviewed if an AE was reported. An expert committee assessed the AE reports to determine causality. Along with descriptive statistics, odds ratios were calculated to determine AE occurrence likelihoods for patients who consumed both CHM and WMPD compared to CHM consumption alone.

Results: 1028 patients were screened and 62.65% of them reported concurrent CHM-WMPD consumption. Patients who consumed CHM and WMPD were 3.65 times more likely to experience an AE as compared to CHM consumption alone. 18 AE reports were adjudicated, with most AEs deemed unlikely due to CHM consumption.

Conclusions: A large proportion of patients consumed CHM and WMPD concurrently, thus increasing their risk of experiencing AEs compared to those consuming CHM only. Active surveillance is applicable for detecting AEs, collecting data for causality assessment, and analysis.

Keywords: Active Surveillance; Adverse Events; Drugs; Epidemiology; Traditional Chinese Medicine.